Many people have some type of regular porch light that is controlled by a switch inside. While those definitely offer the obvious benefit of lighting up the area they do lack a few helpful features. Most importantly would be the ability to turn themselves on when you are not near the switch. That’s where a motion activated light shines (pun intended).
I already have a yard spotlight mounted under the roof line near my door but it isn’t motion activated. Replacing it with a motion activated security light will not only offer convenience and safety while walking from my vehicle to the front door at night but it will also offer some added security as well. The community where I live is very dark at night so adding a motion activated light will notify me if anyone tries to sneak up on my front door.
Replacing a light fixture such as this is extremely easy and anyone can do it. But before working on any electrical device you should always turn the electricity off at the source.
First, remove the bulbs for the old unit. Most of these outdoor lights use a common spotlight bulb. Check to see if the new fixture uses the same lights and if so save these as a backup.
Remove the mounting screws that are holding the old light on. In my case the light fixture had two screws on the outside to secure the fixture directly to the electrical box behind it.
If you are at all unsure that you turned off the correct electrical circuit before starting this project it would be very wise to test the wires to verify there is no power to them before removing the light. See How To Use A Voltmeter for more information on that. Once you are certain that there is no power going to the light disconnect the old wires. There should be a black, white, and bare copper wire. In my situation I noticed that whoever installed this light previously didn’t bother with the ground wire.
Hooking up the three wires properly is important when working with any electrical device. The black wire is the source of the electricity and is commonly referred to as the HOT wire. The white wire is the NEUTRAL wire. And the bare copper wire is the ground wire.
Connect the black wire in the light to the black wire in the electrical box with the included wire nut. Do the same with the white wires as well. The bare copper wire should either be connected to an included green ground screw on the new light fixture if one is available or the bare copper wire in the light fixture.
The old light mounted to the sides of the electrical box but the new light mounts with a single center screw. An adapter plate is pretty much always included that will mount to the outside screw holes and allow a new center mount location.
With the wires properly connected and the mounting plate installed, gently push the wires into the electrical box and use the center bolt to mount the light onto the box. Then adjust the angles of the lights to shine where you want them. In my case I shined one into my yard so I could see if anything approaches and the other on my walkway leading up to my front door.
Finally adjust the control settings as you wish. Most have a couple time durations for the light and a few different motion sensor sensitivities for you to choose from.